July 14, 2024

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Florida reported fuel contamination at some gas stations as the date for Idealia approaches

Florida officials have warned of “potentially widespread” fuel contamination across the state’s Gulf Coast, which could damage motor vehicles and increase the chances of stranding drivers as Tropical Storm Adalia approaches.

Fuel purchased at more than two dozen Citgo-provided gas stations after 10 a.m. Saturday has a high chance of contamination due to “human error,” the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said. He said in an alert Sunday afternoon.

The contamination occurred after workers at Citgo, which supplies fuel to the greater Tampa area, accidentally changed diesel and gasoline in a shipment to the stations on Saturday. Citgo has published a list of the 29 stations believed to have received the contaminated fuel, including some as far south as Fort Myers and as far north as Brooksville.

The alert said contaminated gasoline and diesel “have the potential to cause engine damage or affect operability,” leading to vehicle breakdowns. Generators used in the event of a storm-related power outage can also be affected.

In the alert, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said it had asked the affected stations to stop selling gas until all contaminated fuels have been replaced and tanks cleaned. The agency and Citgo did not immediately respond to an inquiry Sunday night.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) on Aug. 27 told residents in certain parts of Florida to expect power outages once Tropical Storm Idalia makes landfall. (Video: Reuters)

The announcement came after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declared a state of emergency as the state braces for Tropical Storm Adalia, which forecasters predict will become a super hurricane and make landfall from Tuesday through Wednesday.

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A hurricane watch has been issued for the Florida Gulf Coast as Idalia gains strength

“There are probably people stuck on the side of the road. I mean, if you fill up your car with diesel and then start driving it, it doesn’t end well. That’s a concern,” DeSantis said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

He said authorities are publishing a list of affected stations so that anyone who fills them up “knows they probably don’t want to drive.” Citgo said anyone concerned they might be affected can file a claim on their site website.

The state generally advises residents to keep it Gas tanks are at least half full during hurricane season to prevent long lines and shortages during evacuations.

DeSantis said the state government has launched an investigation into the fuel contamination.

State authorities have waived size, weight and hour restrictions for fuel trucks “to get resources into the state as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Kevin Guthrie, executive director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, said at the news conference alongside DeSantis.

Guthrie added that they are also coordinating with oil retailers, ports and all additional stakeholders to “ensure that this disruption is not widespread and that the population can have smooth access to fuel.”

A spokeswoman for the Port of Tampa Bay, where the contaminated fuel was distributed, said Citgo’s operations were “not within the port’s jurisdiction or oversight,” even though some of its gas stations are physically located within the port.

Port of Tampa Bay spokeswoman Lisa Wolfe Chason said in an email that the port is in contact with five partner gas station operators and has been “confirmed that they are ready to deliver fuel and support consumers” despite the storm.

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